You gotta move…

Panoramic GlendaloughMoving outdoors (preferably in nature) clears your mind and reawakens your body to new muscular patterns of movement. To stay young in body and mind, you need to consistently get out of your comfort zone, get outside, and keep moving!

Recently, and in the absence of a ticket to Electric Picnic, my husband and I marked our 10th anniversary ‘Kennenlearnen Tag’ with a 3 hour hike in beautiful Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Glendalough is well worth the visit. Founded by St. Kevin in 6AD, it features a monastic city, a round tower standing some 30m tall, and Kevin’s Bed, a cavity int he cliff beyond the settlement. The trees and lake surrounding the monastic site emit a pure, spiritual energy, evoking centuries of human meditation and prayer.

There are hiking trails to suit all levels. We followed the White Trail, a 3 hour hike covering 12k in total when you include the walk from the car-park to the start of the trail. When you’re training for a marathon it all counts right?!    Ruthe-@Glendalough

Surrounded by nature, I noticed 20 minutes into the hike that my right shoulder, which had been nagging at me for months now and was ‘frozen’, felt completely free. My husband noted that his knee (operated on last year) felt strong. We passed by sheep and deer as we made our way through the miners village to the foot of the hill. It felt great to be out and able to climb all the way up the side of the waterfall running down from the top of the hill. Higher up, the mountains glowed bright purple with heather in bloom.

Valley view

Crossing over the stream at the top, we continued along the board walk that runs all the way along the summit, back down towards the woods above the visitor centre. We enjoyed the views down into the valley below, overlooking first the Miner’s Village and lakes beyond. It was a bright sunny day, with trees and tourists alike enjoying the best our Indian Summer had to offer.

Lake view

After finishing the hike, we sat by the river that flows down from the waterfall above and dipped our toes in the cool, invigorating water.

Though my legs were feeling the effort from the descent, my mind was calm and clear. Feeling energised yet completely at peace, I reflected with my husband that “it’d be hard to have a fight here”. He agreed! After 3 hours hiking together, in this place so tranquil yet vibrant, we felt alive, and buzzing with energy.

The trees glowed with pure health and vitality. Their leaves neon green, soaking up the sunlight and radiating life energy for us humans to freely tap into. Glendalough is a beautiful, special place. I felt very lucky to be there among the foreign tourists who’d made a greater effort to visit it. We left feeling completely at peace, with ourselves and our surroundings.

Spending 3 hours in this vast green haven, made it clear in my mind that all I need is space and freedom to move in order to feel calm, happy, and at peace. Peace, Balance, and Harmony. Take every chance to be outdoors in nature, ground yourself barefoot on cool soft grass or in an invigorating stream. Stand in a place surrounded by trees and breathe in the air they give us.

The peace and awe that one feels at Glendalough reminded me of  Xavier Rudd – Follow the Sun “take a stroll to your nearest waters edge and remember your place, many moons have risen and fallen long before your came.” We are so fortunate to have Glendalough only an hours drive away.

For more thoughts on how outdoor movement helps you to stay young, see Martha Peterson’s blog post: To Clear the Mind and Reawaken The Body You’ve Got To Move. We completely agree with you Martha!


How Do You Reverse Hip Pain?

somaticsfeatured-770x403Why is releasing muscle the solution to healing hip, shoulder or pelvic girdle pain? Surely when you’re trying to keep yourself from falling over, or it all from falling out, it makes more sense to pull everything in, suck it up, rather than let it all hang out and go south?!

Here’s why. Lifting weights onto an already imbalanced frame, will only compound your pain. Running or walking on an imbalanced gait will only cause more pain to your misaligned posture. Before you book another exercise class, remember that it’s only once the muscle is fully relaxed and reset to it’s optimum length, can we then work to repair and build strength in the body.

Have a weak pelvic floor or chronic pelvic girdle pain? Stop doing Kegels and learn how to release your Pelvic Floor.

Chronic Hip pain? How tightly-held are all the muscles around your hip joint, in your waist, torso, and low back?

Somatics or surgery? Find out if the root cause of your pain is actually a functional issue, rather than a structural one, and give yourself the gift of a regular Somatics practice for at least 3 months before you decide.


All muscles have tone, or tonus. Tone is a natural ability to stretch and contract in response to stimuli. Muscles work to contract or shorten. When a muscle is at rest, it is relaxed, returned to it’s optimal length; it’s tone is zero. So, if we have complete control of a muscle, we can contract, and then completely relax it, achieving a muscle tonicity of zero.

Sensory Motor Amnesia, is loss of voluntary control of the muscle. The brain does not recognise, or  ‘see’ that the muscles are held in a prolonged contracted state. Chronic muscular tension can mean a resting muscle tone of 10, 20 or even 40 percent. (Remember, we want a resting muscle tone of zero!)

Muscles in this state of high tone, often feel weak because they cannot move freely to fulfil the function for which they are designed. Actually the muscle is quite strong, but is tired and overworked from contracting all the time. Muscles with high tone are aways sore and painful to touch.

The good news is that, if your body learned to hold your muscles in a prolonged contracted state, it can also learn to release them and allow them to return to their optimum length, back to a resting tone of zero. Muscular reactions to stress can be overcome. It is possible to enjoy muscular tone that is low in contraction and energy expenditure, and very high in comfort and control.

Essential Somatics

With carefully guided movement, Somatics teaches your brain how to recognise tightly-held muscle, and more importantly, how to release it. The movements are pain-free and always within your own range of comfort.

By consciously contracting into the tightly-held muscle, the brain’s voluntary ability to contract overrides the involuntarily held contraction, switching off this chronic response and giving you back control over your muscles.

This is why Somatics works.

For more info on how Somatics can reverse Hip Pain, read this article by Martha Peterson from Essential Somatics.

See a video ‘how to’ with Tanya Fitzpatrick from Align Somatics here.

If you have any questions or wish to attend a class, please send me an email:

Sources & Credits Thomas Hanna, ‘Somatics – Reawakening the mind’s control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health’ ISBN 0-7382-0957-0 ISBN-13 978-0-7382-0957-9.

Pain Relief Through Movement

Here is an old blog post, recycled and updated with free videos. It has stood the test of time.

Strengthening hip muscles doesn’t always relieve hip joint pain.

In this post about hip pain and labral tears I questioned the commonly held belief that strengthening the muscles of the hip will somehow relieve general hip joint pain when you’ve had an injury (like a labral tear).  Here’s a recap:

  1. Labral tears are generally the result of athletic injury or wear and tear over the years due to accidents. Labral tears cause instability in the hip.
  2. Instability in a joint causes muscles to contract to try and create stability.
  3. This kind of reflexive contraction to save yourself from further pain or injury or to compensate because because of an injury changes the way in which you would normally move.
  4. The muscles involved in this “Trauma Reflex” pattern must be…

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